« AnteriorContinuar »
his object, the unhappy youth de- meet. I see before me now the way clared his fixed determination never to fortune, fairly, honourably; you can to live with his father, never to acqui- aid me in it only in the way I have esce in his authority, resolutely to said. Reject me now, and the option pursue his own career, whatever that may never come again to either!" career might be, explaining none of And then Roland said to himself, the circumstances that appeared most “I have spared and saved for this in his disfavour— rather, perhaps, son; what care I for aught else than thinking that, the worse his father enough to live without debt, creep judged of him, the more chance he into a corner, and await the grave! had to achieve his purpose. “ All I And the more I can give, why the ask of you," he said, “is this: Give better chance that he will abjure the vile me the least you can afford to pre- associate and the desperate course." serve me from the temptation to rob, And so, out of that small income, or the necessity to starve; and I, in Roland surrendered to the rebel child my turn, promise never to molest you more than the half. in life-never to degrade you in my Vivian was not aware of his father's death ; whatever my misdeeds, they fortune-he did not suppose the sum will never reflect on yourself, for you of two hundred pounds a-year was an shall never recognise the misdoer! allowance so disproportioned to RoThe name you prize so highly shall land's means—yet when it was named, be spared." Sickened and revolted, even he was struck by the generosity Roland attempted no argument—there of one to whom he himself had given was that in the son's cold manner the right to say, “I take thee at thy which shut out hope, and against word ; 'just enough not to starve !'” which his pride rose indignant. A But then that hateful cynicism meeker man might have remonstrated, which, caught from bad men and evil implored, and wept—that was not in books, he called “knowledge of the Roland's nature. He had but the world,” made him think, “it is not for choice of three evils, to say to his me, it is only for his name ;" and he son: "Fool, I command thee to fol- said aloud, “I accept these terms, low me;" or say, " Wretch, since sir; here is the address of a solicitor thou wouldst cast me off as a stranger, with whom yours can settle them. as a stranger I say to thee-Go, Farewell for ever." starve or rob, as thou wilt!" or last- At those last words Roland started, ly, to bow his proud head, stunned and stretched out his arms vaguely by the blow, and say, " Thou refusest like a blind man. But Vivian had me the obedience of the son, thou de already thrown open the window, mandest to be as the dead to me. I (the room was on the ground floor) can control thee not from vice, I can and sprang upon the sill. “Fareguide thee not to virtue. Thou wouldst well," he repeated : “tell the world I sell me the name I have inherited am dead." stainless, and have as stainless borne. He leapt into the street, and the Be it so !-Name thy price !"
father drew in the outstretched arms, And something like this last was smote his heart, and said—“Well, the father's choice.
then, my task in the world of man is He listened, and was long silent; over! I will back to the old ruinand then he said slowly, “Pause be- the wreck to the wrecks -- and the fore you decide."
sight of tombs I have at least rescued “I have paused long-my decision from dishonour shall comfort me for is made! this is the last time we all !"
THE RESULTS-PERVERTED AMBITION-SELFISH PASSION--THE INTELLECT DISTORTED
BY THE CROOKEDNESS OF THE HEART.
Vivian's schemes thus prospered. gentleman-an independence modest He had an income that permitted indeed, but independence still. We him the outward appearances of a were all gone from London. One
letter to me, with the postmark of had been devoted to the purchase of the town near which Colonel Vivian a locket, on which he had caused to lived, sufficed to confirm my belief in be inscribed his own name and his his parentage, and in his return to his mother's. Through all his wanderfriends. He then presented himself ings he had worn this relic; and in to Trevanion as the young man whose the direst pangs of want, no hunger pen I had employed in the member's had been keen enough to induce him service; and knowing that I had to part with it. Now, one morning never mentioned his name to Treva- the ribbon that suspended the locket nion-for without Vivian's permission gave way, and his eye resting on the I should not, considering his apparent names inscribed on the gold, he thought, trust in me, have deemed myself in bis own vague sense of right, imauthorised to do so-he took that of perfect as it was, that his compact Gower, which he selected haphazard with his father obliged him to have from an old Court Guide, as having the names erased. He took it to a the advantage in common with most jeweller in Piccadilly for that purpose, names borne by the higher nobility of and gave the requisite order, not England, viz., of not being confined, taking notice of a lady in the further as the ancient names of untitled gen- part of the shop. The locket was tlemen usually are, to the members of still on the counter after Vivian had a single family. And when, with his left, when the lady coming forward usual adaptability and suppleness, he observed it, and saw the names on had contrived to lay aside, or smooth the surface. She had been struck by over, whatever in his manners would the peculiar tone of the voice, which be calculated to displease Trevanion, she had heard before, and that very and had succeeded in exciting the day Mr Gower received a note from interest which that generous states- Lady Ellinor Trevanion, requesting man always conceived for ability, he to see him. Much wondering, he owned candidly, one day, in the pre. went. Presenting him with the sence of Lady Ellinor-for his experi- locket, she said smiling, “ There is ence had taught him the comparative only one gentleman in the world who ease with which the sympathy of calls himself De Caxton, unless it be woman is enlisted in anything that his son. Ah! I see now why you appeals to the imagination, or seems wished to conceal yourself from my out of the ordinary beat of life-that friend Pisistratus. But how is this? he had reasons for concealing his can you have any difference with connexions for the present—that he your father? Confide in me, or it is had cause to believe I suspected what my duty to write to him." they were, and, from mistaken regard Even Vivian's powers of dissimulafor his welfare, might acquaint his tion abandoned him, thus taken by relations with his whereabout. He surprise. He saw no alternative but therefore begged Trevanion, if the to trust Lady Ellinor with his secret, latter had occasion to write to me, and implore her to respect it. And not to mention him. This promise then he spoke bitterly of his father's Trevanion gave, though reluctantly; dislike to him, and his own resolution for the confidence volunteered to him to prove the injustice of that dislike seemed to exact the promise ; but as by the position he would himself he detested mystery of all kinds, the establish in the world. At present, avowal might have been fatal to any his father believed him dead, and farther acquaintance; and under aus- perhaps was not ill-pleased to think pices so doubtful, there would have so. He would not dispel that belief been no chance of his obtaining that till he could redeem any boyish errors, intimacy in Trevanion's house which and force his family to be proud to he desired to establish, but for an acknowledge him. accident which at once opened that Though Lady Ellinorwas slow to behouse to him almost as a home. lieve that Roland could dislike his son,
Vivian had always treasured a lock she could yet readily believe that he of his mother's hair, cut off on her was harsh and choleric, with a soldier's deathbed ; and when he was at his high notions of discipline; the young French tutor's, his first pocket-money man's story moved her, his determination pleased her own high spirit; and heart of the great heiress had not always with a touch of romance in been one of the least sanguine. This her, and always sympathising with hope was annulled when, not long each desire of ambition-she entered after his intimacy at her father's into Vivian's aspirations with an house, she became engaged to young alacrity that surprised himself. She Lord Castleton. But he could not was charmed with the idea of mini- see Miss Trevapion with impunitystering to the son's fortunes, and (alas! who, with a heart yet free, ultimately reconciling him to the could be insensible to attractions so father,--through her own agency ;- winning ?) He permitted the loveit would atone for any fault of which such love as his wild, half-educated, Roland could accuse herself in the half-savage nature acknowledgedold time.
to creep into his soul-to master it; She undertook to impart the secret but he felt no hope, cherished no to Trevanion, for she would have no scheme while the young lord lived. secrets from him, and to secure hisWith the death of her betrothed, acquiescenece in its concealment from Fanny was free; then he began to all others.
hope-not yet to scheme, AccidenAnd here I must a little digress from tally he encountered Peacock. Partly the chronological course of my expla from the levity that accompanied a natory narrative, to inform the reader false good-nature that was constituthat, when Lady Ellinor had her in- tional with him, partly from a vague terview with Roland, she had been idea that the man might be useful, repelled by the sternness of his manner Vivian established his quondam assofrom divulging Vivian's secret. But ciate in the service of Trevanion. on her first attempt to sound or conci- Peacock soon gained the secret of liate him, she had begun with some Vivian's love for Fanny, and, dazzled eulogies on Trevanion's new friend by the advantages that a marriage and assistant, Mr Gower, and had with Miss Trevanion would confer on awakened Roland's suspicions of his patron, and might reflect on himthat person's identity with his son self, and delighted at an occasion to --suspicions which had given him a exercise his dramatic accomplishments terrible interest in our joint deliver on the stage of real life, he soon pracance of Miss Trevanion. But so tised the lesson that the theatres had heroically had the poor soldier sought taught him — viz: to make a subto resist his own fears, that on the way intrigue between maid and valet serve he shrank to put to me the questions the schemes and insure the success of that might paralyse the energies which, the lover. If Vivian had some opwhatever the answer, were then so portunities to imply his admiration, much needed. “For," said he to my Miss Trevanion gave him none to father, “I felt the blood surging to my plead his cause. But the softness of temples; and if I had said to Pisis. her nature, and that graceful kindness tratus, 'Describe this man,' and by which surrounded her like an atmohis description I had recognised my sphere, emanating unconsciously from son, and dreaded lest I might be too a girl's harmless desire to please, late to arrest him from so treacherous tended to deceive him. His own pera crime, my brain would have given sonal gifts were so rare, and, in his way ;--and so I did not dare !"
wandering life, the effect they had I return to the thread of my story produced had so increased his reliance From the time that Vivian confided in on them, that he thought he wanted Lady Ellinor, the way was cleared to but the fair opportunity to woo in his most ambitious hopes; and though order to win. In this state of mental his acquisitions were not sufficiently intoxication, Trevanion, having proscholastic and various to permit Tre- vided for his Scotch secretary, took vanion to select him as a secretary, him to Lord N- 's. His hostess yet, short of sleeping at the house, he was one of those middle-aged ladies was little less intimate there than I of fashion, who like to patronise and had been.
bring forward young men, accepting Among Vivian's schemes of ad- gratitude for condescension, as a hovancement, that of winning the hand mage to beauty. She was struck by
Vivian's exterior, and that pictu- from his stage experience the outresque' in look and in manner which lines of a plot, to which Vivian's belonged to him. Naturally garrulous astuter intellect instantly gave tangiand indiscreet, she was unreserved to bility and colouring. Peacock had a pupil whom she conceived the whim already found Miss Trevanion's waitto make · au fait to society. Thus ing-woman ripe for any measure that she talked to him, among other topics might secure himself as her husband, in fashion, of Miss Trevanion, and and a provision for life as a reward. expressed her belief that the present Two or three letters between them Lord Castleton had always admired settled the preliminary engagements. her; but it was only on his accession A friend of the ex-comedian's had to the marquisate that he had made lately taken an inn on the North road, up his mind to marry, or, from his and might be relied upon. At that knowledge of Lady Ellinor's ambi- inn it was settled that Vivian should tion, thought that the Marquis of meet Miss Trevanion, whom Peacock, Castleton might achieve the prize by the aid of the abigail, engaged to which would have been refused to Sir lure there. The sole difficulty that Sedley Beaudesert. Then, to corro- then remained would, to most men, borate the predictions she hazarded, have seemed the greatest-viz., the she repeated, perhaps with exaggera- consent of Miss Trevanion to a Scotch tion, some passages from Lord Castle marriage. But Vivian hoped all ton's replies to her own suggestions things from his own eloquence, art, on the subject. Vivian's alarm be- and passion; and by an inconsiscame fatally excited ; unregulated tency, however strange, still not unpassions easily obscured a reason so natural in the twists of so crooked an long perverted, and a conscience so intellect, he thought that, by insisting habitually dulled. There is an in- on the intention of her parents to stinct in all intense affection, (whether sacrifice her youth to the very man of it be corrupt or pure,) that usually whose attractions he was most jealous makes its jealousy prophetic. Thus, by the picture of disparity of years, from the first, out of all the brilliant by the caricature of his rival's foibles idlers round Fanny Trevanion, my and frivolities, by the commonplaces jealousy had pre-eminently fastened of “beauty bartered for ambition," on Sir Sedley Beaudesert, though, to &c., he might enlist her fears of the all seeming, without a cause. From alternative on the side of the choice the same instinct, Vivian had con- urged upon her. The plan proceeded, ceived the same vague jealousy—a the time came: Peacock pretended jealousy, in his instance, coupled with the excuse of a sick relation to leave a deep dislike to his supposed rival, Trevanion; and Vivian, a day before, who had wounded his self-love. For on pretence of visiting the picturesque the marquis, though to be haughty or scenes in the neighbourhood, obtained ill-bred was impossible to the bland leave of absence. Thus the plot went ness of his nature, had never shown on to its catastrophe. to Vivian the genial courtesies he had “ And I need not ask," said I, trylavished upon me, and kept politely ing in vain to conceal my indignation, aloof from his acquaintance while “how Miss Trevanion received your Vivian's personal vanity had been monstrous proposition !" wounded by that drawing-room effect, Vivian's pale cheek grew paler, but which the proverbial winner of all be made no reply. hearts produced without an effort-an " And if we had not arrived, what effect that threw into the shade the would you have done ? Oh, dare you youth, and the beauty (more striking, look into the gulf of infamy you have but infinitely less prepossessing) of the escaped !" adventurous rival. Thus animosity "I cannot, and I will not bear to Lord Castleton conspired with this !” exclaimed Vivian, starting up. Vivian's passion for Fanny, to rouse “I have laid my heart bare before all that was worst by nature and by you, and it is ungenerous and unmanrearing, in this audacious and turbu- ly thus to press upon its wounds. lent spirit.
You can moralise, you can speak His confidant, Peacock, suggested coldly--but I-I loved !"
“And do you think," I burst forth earlier thoughts, to heavier wrongs ! _" do you think that I did not love your father--that noble heart which too!-love longer than you have done; you have so wantonly lacerated, that better than you have done ; gone much-enduring love which you have through sharper struggles, darker so little comprehended !" days, more sleepless nights than you, Then with all the warmth of emo—and yet—"
tion I hurried on-showed him the Vivian caught hold of me.
true nature of honour and of Roland “ Hush !” he cried; “is this in. (for the names were one!)-showed deed true! I thought you might have him the watch, the hope, the manly had some faint and fleeting fancy for anguish I had witnessed, and weptMiss Trevanion, but that you curbed I, not his son-to see; showed him and conquered it at once. Oh no; the poverty and privation to which it was impossible to have loved really, the father, even at the last, had conand to have surrendered all chance as demned himself, so that the son might you did !-have left the house, have have no excuse for the sins that Want fied from her presence! No-no, whispers to the weak. This, and that was not love!"
much more, and I suppose with the “It was love! and I pray Heaven pathos that belongs to all earnestness, to grant that, one day, you may know I enforced, sentence after sentencehow little your affection sprang from yielding to no interruption, over-masthose feelings which make true love tering all dissent; driving in the sublime as honour, and meek as is truth, nail after nail, as it were, into religion! Oh cousin, cousin !- with the obdurate heart, that I constrained those rare gifts, what you might have and grappled to. And at last, the been! what, if you will pass through dark, bitter, cynical nature gave way, repentance, and cling to atonement, and the young man fell sobbing at my what, I dare hope, you may yet be! fect, and cried aloud, "Spare me, Talk not now of your love; I talk spare me!-I see it all now! Wretch not of mine! Love is a thing gone that I have been !" from the lives of both. Go back to
On leaving Vivian, I did not pre- with my feelings in parting with Miss sume to promise him Roland's imme- Trevanion-perhaps from conjecture diate pardon. I did not urge him to that the indulgence of those feelings attempt to see his father. I felt the had not wholly engrossed my time. time was not come for either pardon But he said simply, “I think I or interview. I contented myself understood from you that you had with the victory I had already gained. sent for Austin-is it so ?” I judged it right that thought, soli. “Yes, sir; but I named **** *, as tude, and suffering should imprint the nearest point to the Tower, for more deeply the lesson, and prepare the place of meeting." the way to the steadfast resolution of “Then let us go hence forthwithreform. I left him seated by the nay, I shall be better for the change. stream, and with the promise to inform And here, there must be curiosity, him at the small hostelry, where he conjecture-torture !" said he, locking took up his lodging, how Roland his hands tightly together. “ Order struggled through his illness.
the horses at once!” On returning to the inn, I was I left the room, accordingly; and uneasy to see how long a time had while they were getting ready the elapsed since I had left my uncle. horses, I ran to the place where I had But on coming into his room, to my left Vivian. He was still there, in surprise and relief I found him up and the same attitude, covering his face dressed, and with a serene though with his hands, as if to shut out the fatigued expression of countenance. sun. I told him hastily of Roland's He asked me no questions where I improvement, of our approaching dehad been-perhaps from sympathy parture, and asked him an address in